People need loving the most when they deserve it the least” ~ John Harrigan
I am continually saddened by the lack of openness in regards to adoption from foster care. I read a lot of blogs written by adoptive parents and birth parents - many of who are part of domestic infant adoptions. And within the context of those blogs there is a lot of discussion of how important openness is to children who have been adopted. There is a general understanding of the realities of the first parent experience - how difficult relinquishment is and how much respect there should be for children's origins.
So I'm always a little stung when someone makes a statement like, "Thank goodness we can have this kind of openness, we couldn't have this if we'd adopted from foster care".
Or, "I'm not a crack-whore, I'm not a threat to my child, his adoptive parents shouldn't have any problem with having an open adoption".
Now, no one has actually said those exact phrases, but more than once I've read similar words from birth and adoptive parents who are activeley participating in open adoptions. Open adoptions that they explicitly say they believe is in the best interests of the child.
So, why don't children adopted from foster care deserve the same thing?
If open adoptions are about the children, why does it matter what issues their birth parents have? Does the fact that their mother has a substance abuse issue mean that a child won't want to know them? Does the fact that their father is in jail negate a child's need to understand why they aren't being raised by them?
Children who were adopted from Foster Care deserve to maintain connections with their biological families. Many of these children lived with their biological parents for some amount of time and already have attachments (however disrupted) to these parents. They have memories of relatives and family friends. Even if they do not - then they are no different than a child whose parent made a thought out plan to place them for adoption. They will need the same answers and have the same desire to know their birth families.
Why is the fact that the child was placed for adoption because of a more "temporary" problem - youth or finances - make the first parents more deserving of knowing that their children are alright? Is a child whose first parent has a permanent problem such as substance abuse or mental illness exempt from needing to understand their origins?
And what does this teach children? That you reject people who make poor choices? That family is only family if you never have any problems? How can we ask these children to trust us to love them when they make bad decisions? What if they grow up and struggle with mental health issues, substance abuse, or the like? Will you, their adoptive parents, stop being their parents?
It makes me so sad to realize that people really believe that parents with more chronic issues - substance abuse, mental illness, generational histories of abuse - don't really care about their children. Or that even if they do, the actions which caused the loss of their child, mean that they don't deserve to know that their children are being taken care of and loved.
I have known many, many biological parents in my time as a casemanager who will never be able to parent their children. They abuse drugs, they manipulate, they spend half their time in jail, they sell their bodies for basic needs, they lie, they steal, they make promises they can't keep...
They are still human. They are humans who have been really, terribly hurt. They've been hurt by pretty much everyone they've ever interacted with in life.
They are still parents. They are parents who have feelings about their children. They still deserve to know that their kids are okay.
But more importantly - their children deserve it too. They deserve to know their parents wanted them - even if they fought in ways that were manipulative and unproductive. They deserve to know their parents are okay - even if that just means they are still alive and have enough to eat. They deserve to know that their parents do think about them and want contact with them - they weren't thrown away and forgotten.
They deserve to know that
FAMILY is FAMILY
... no matter what.